Holidholidaysays are not all glitter and egg nog—the holidays can hit seniors hard. Here’s how you can help older folks have an uplifting holiday season.

We’re all vulnerable to holiday overload: planning, decorating, shopping, cooking, cleaning and shoveling take their toll. For older adults, this can be a particularly depressing season. Family events can bring painful reminders of loved ones they’ve lost. Our seniors may face reduced capabilities, causing feelings of sadness. Your awareness and involvement, though, can make all the difference. Here are a few tips to help seniors enjoy the holidays.

Minimize Stress

This goes for all of us—seniors and younger adults alike. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the activities and obligations we face this time of year. Try not to overextend yourself with parties or gatherings. Spend only what’s in your budget when it comes to buying presents. Handmade gifts such as afghans, quilts, craft items or ornaments are a treasured alternative. Older folks may choose to pass along a small heirloom or memento that could mean a great deal to younger relatives.

Involve Them

Helping your loved ones decorate the house for the holidays is a great mood lifter. When the family gathers to trim the tree, watch favorite Christmas movies and share memories over a hot cup of cocoa, magic happens. Baking cookies, preparing meals and wrapping gifts are other ways to involve seniors in the spirit of the season. Make sure to check in on your loved ones this time of year. Take them to church, concerts or family gatherings—or simply reach out to let them know how important they are to the entire family.

Remove Obstacles

When planning a party or family gathering, beware of accident hazards. Those cute seasonal throw rugs can slip or bunch up, causing a fall. Do not place furniture where loved ones could stumble over it. Older folks may have vision problems that can lead to accidents in an unfamiliar environment. And keep an eye on the weather. Seniors often feel colder and need warmer surroundings. Make sure those using canes and walkers in snow or ice have a firm grip. Walk with them, ready to help if needed.


Here’s a special joy:  Talk about memories of years past. Sharing fond recollections helps anyone feel appreciated and lets them contribute to the occasion. Many youngsters enjoy hearing stories of earlier times and relatives’ younger days.

Music Hath Charms

Music is much more than notes on a page, songs on the radio, or Pandora streaming through your children’s Bluetooth speakers. Favorite tunes—including holiday classics—can soothe, energize, inspire or evoke special moments. Studies underscore the power of music to reinforce positive feelings and the connection between music therapy and enhanced memory. Tap the power of music during the holidays and all year: Play, sing, dance and laugh together often.

Let the beloved seniors in your life guide you on how to help them get the most out of the holidays.  Bake cookies, share a laugh, and make new memories while cherishing the old ones. Above all, treasure the times that bring generations together to reflect and celebrate. Happy Holidays!

Lisa Chubb, MSN, RN, WCC, RAC-CT, CMAC, CRN-C is Vice President of Medical Services for Independent Adult Day Care Centers, now open in central Indiana. For more information, please visit independentadultday.com.

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